10 March – 25 September 2016
A sprawling object-led display tells the story of the different people who have been called 'Celts' throughout the ages.
For many years researchers have debated over who the Celts were, and what we can define as their art. The term was first used to describe the intricately ornamented artefacts from the European Iron Age: diverse objects from shields to swords to brooches are found covered in swirly yet symmetrical, abstract and enigmatic decorations.
The visual styles of Celtic art were revived in the early medieval period (best known in The Book of Kells), and went onto to dominate the aesthetics of the 18th/19th centuries in Britain. Today we are bombarded with so-called Celtic imagery in pop culture, from knots to crosses to Art Nouveau-influenced floral designs in the form of tattoos, book covers and jewellery.
This exhibition doesn't shy away from the long chronology and geographical spread of this diffuse art, with hundreds of objects from around Britain and Europe on display to prove it.